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  #46  
Old 06-09-2024, 09:11 PM
sayheyjeff sayheyjeff is offline
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Love listening to jazz. Parents had a couple of Ellington and Basie records they played on the HiFi. Started to broaden my own scope when I was exposed to more in college starting in the fall of Ď69. Coletrane, Monk, Young, Davis and more became immediate favorites. When Monk and Roland Kirk came to campus, thought I had gone to heaven. Didnít just listen to jazz then either. The great live music scene my freshman year didnít just include jazz. We had Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, Led Zep, James Taylor, Taj Mahal, the Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter and more in one year. Had albums, 8 track, cassette and cds from all of them. That many folks donít care for music by all of these folks is not a new concept for me. My wife still asks me if we have to listen to Ďthat Ornette Colemaní stuff. It isnít just music either. Some folks like Andrew Wyeth while others prefer Jackson Pollock.

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  #47  
Old 06-10-2024, 05:11 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
ď Interviewer: Can you explain Jazz?
Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all Jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.
Interviewer: I don't understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands Jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn't know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great Jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great Jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead.
Interviewer: What's the difference between theory and practice?
Yogi: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In Jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be Jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don't understand.
Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand Jazz that well.Ē
This was wonderful.
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  #48  
Old 06-10-2024, 05:30 PM
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min7b5 min7b5 is offline
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I saw the Bill Frisell Trio last night. The trio played a continuous set many of which were a little challenging, and it left me asking myself (again) how people more knowledgeable in jazz listen to jazz. ...
I think this is a great and humble question. Thanks for this.

My own feeling is with jazz is it’s super helpful if you know the tune that they are playing. So if it's a standard that is well known, like say, summertime, then you have this sort of mental benchmark of where they're starting from. And you can ideally appreciate the variations. If it's a tune you don't know then it can be a little harder, or a lot harder. Generally, the protocol in jazz (and other forms like playing fiddle tunes) is to state the melody at the beginning and again at the end, so keep an ear out for what you think is the main theme in the beginning or at least towards the beginning, and then hopefully you'll have a sense of when it's going into variations thereafter. Sometimes though, jazz can venture too far away from the melody right at the outset, and I'm a bit of a curmudgeon about that. I like a nice clear statement of the melody. And of course there's so much emphasis on virtuosity now in jazz that the temptation to go fast and furious off the reservation quickly makes it hard on the majority of listeners, myself included for sure.

If you're just lost in the tune, like you had the thread for a while but now lost it, that's OK, that certainly happens to me too. I think at that point, and even if you're not lost, just try to appreciate the interaction -maybe like overhearing an animated discussion in another language. Of course, this gets into one's preferences though. I personally get very bored when there's one soloist and then two people that are just accompanying by just chunking out the chords and holding down a groove. Something different might be, say, the Bill Evans Trio album Live At The Village Vanguard, where you have a piano, bass and drums Trio with tremendous interaction. That might be something to listen to with headphones one day.

The good news about Bill is he does play a longer game. He's not just cutting and pasting modular phrases and licks, he is spinning longer coherent threads. The bad news is he has a great sense of humor, and a very sophisticated harmonic sense, so it can be a bit of a bucking bronco too. And he can get very into texture and create something more of a cinematic scene too. Maybe think of those as little interludes... But there is a ride to go on there, it’s just not always an easy one. This is an art form that really demands a lot of our attention span, and just about all of us are losing some ability in that department on a daily basis now (did I just hear my phone ding...). So maybe be open to the fact that this might be good for you in a certain sense, a healthy exercise in extended concentration, more so than just say pure entertainment of a pop band.
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  #49  
Old 06-10-2024, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by min7b5 View Post
I think this is a great and humble question question. Thanks for this.

My own feeling is with jazz is itís super helpful if you know the tune that they are playing. So if it's a standard that is well known, like say, summertime, then you have this sort of mental benchmark of where they're starting from. And you can ideally appreciate the variations. if it's a tune you don't know then it can be a little harder, or a lot harder. Generally, the protocol in jazz (and other forms like playing fiddle tunes) is to state the melody at the beginning and at the end, so keep an ear out for what you think is the main theme in the beginning or at least towards the beginning, and then hopefully you'll have a sense of when it's going into variations thereafter. Sometimes though, jazz can venture too far away from the melody right at the outset, and I'm a bit of a curmudgeon about that. I like a nice clear statement of the melody. And of course there's so much emphasis on virtuosity now and jazz that the temptation to go fast and furious off the reservation quickly makes it hard on the majority of listeners, myself included for sure.

If you're just lost in the tune, like you had the thread for a while but now lost it, that's OK, that certainly happens to me too. I think at that point, and even if you're not lost, just try to appreciate the interaction -maybe like overhearing an animated discussion in another language. Of course, this gets into one's preferences though. I personally get very bored when there's one soloist and then two people that are just accompanying by just chunking out the chords and holding down a groove. Something different might be, say, the Bill Evans Trio album Live At The Village Vanguard, where you have a piano, bass and drums Trio with tremendous interaction. That might be something to listen to with headphones one day.

The good news about Bill is he does play a longer game. He's not just cutting and pasting modular phrases and licks, he is spinning longer coherent threads. The bad news is he has a great sense of humor, and a very sophisticated harmonic sense, so it can be a bit of a bucking bronco too. And he can get very into texture and create something more of a cinematic scene too. Maybe think of those as little interludes... But there is a ride to go on there, itís just not always an easy one. This is an art form that really demands a lot of our attention span, and just about all of us are losing some ability in that department on a daily basis now (did I just hear my phone ding...). So maybe be open to the fact that this might be good for you in a certain sense, a healthy exercise in extended concentration, more so than just say pure entertainment of a pop band.
Beautifully stated, Eric. Iím a jazz novice, and can identify with everything youíve written here.

My playing partner and I are working on C Jam Blues at the moment, and in that pursuit, Iíve been spelunking on YouTube. One version I found that exemplifies much of what you said is this one. For the sensitive, I should note that it contains no guitar, and the drummer reintroduces the head after his solo

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  #50  
Old 06-10-2024, 05:58 PM
The Watchman The Watchman is offline
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Its an educated taste for sure. Not everything sounds good, but when it does, it's amazing. I took a class on blues harmonica once (of all things) with the guy who wrote the Mel Bay books on harmonica (of all things). In conversation with me, he said that listening to jazz is knowing that from any given note, the musician could go in a thousand different directions, and the pleasure came in hearing which direction they went.
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  #51  
Old 06-10-2024, 07:26 PM
Jimbo00 Jimbo00 is offline
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I don't listen to Jazz very often, just as I don't orchestra classical music. Sometimes I like to try to focus on the instrument sections. I still listen to Glenn Miller Big Band era music. Dad used to play that being a WW2 veteran. Even my era of tail end of the Boomer generation, I don't think I'd have the reference to listen to the larger band & orchestra sized music without the education from the 1960's & 1970's for K-12. I have no idea of what they're exposing kids, K-12 today, with for Music classes & education.

I just am blessed to have grown up thru the era I did. Imagine starting out over just the last 1/4 century & not having been exposed to all the eras of music on the radio, well, today a decade plus of streaming music. The classical composers are too much for me, to appreciate to determine Beethoven from Mozart. Taking humanities in college, I failed miserably at discerning classical music, even the paintings for artwork. I cut a plea deal, took my "C" & swore that I would never act like an art/music snob. Today, I find myself going back more to listen to 1960's & 1970's oldies. My rock & roll is going to span 1960's => 2010ish, mostly later 1960's to early 00's. Each decade was relatively incredible music for it's era.

Who knows, 1 day I might listen to the entirety of it, rather than dissecting it to analyze the instrumental sections. Maybe we're all like that, when we hear something that is done well for a sub section of instruments, we try to figure out what is happening that has such an effect on the endorphins that addict us to that part of the song. Whether it's the trombone section of 1940's Glenn Miller or a 1980's Saxophone solo.

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  #52  
Old 06-11-2024, 07:17 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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The OP asked those who listen to jazz for pointers on how to listen better.

Instead it appears that the majority of people just posted why they dislike jazz, or generalizations borne out of their unfamiliarity with it.
I'm not sure how that is helpful for the OP, other than encouraging them to give it up!

It's OK to not like jazz (or ANY style for that matter). But if you don't understand what is going on, then your opinion has nothing behind it except personal issues and assumptions.
(For example, Javanese gamelan music may sound like noise to you - as it uses some extremely non-Western tunings and intervals.
I assure you that many millions would disagree that it is noise, and they find it as moving as whatever YOUR benchmark pieces are.)

Jazz and classical are both extremely broad stylistic buckets. Most jazz or classical fans won't like the entirety of the genre.
(If you like Pachelbel's Canon in D, you might not like Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat.)

As a big jazz fan and long time player, I initially found the Forties-Fifties era most accessible (as it was often standards-based with high ratios of melodic content.
Once I became used to the idioms of that era, I began to yearn for more challenging harmonies and rhythms, which led me to Sixties and electric jazz.
I might have given up if I started with the more experimental stuff!
And even now I can only listen to small doses of free/atonal jazz.

OP: Frisell, while he CAN play very simply and melodically, has an experimental streak a mile wide. So just like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

One trick I use to help keep me anchored when the band is going out there is to keep my foot tapping. Especially if I know the time signature, it becomes easier to hear the changes and ride along with the piece.

When jazz (in particular) gets out on a limb, it can take a lot of work to hang with it. If you lose the thread, it can be like twisting your camera lens out of focus. Nothing makes sense anymore.

Most non-popular styles of music contain idioms that can sound quite weird when they are unfamiliar - but once you are familiar, the weirdness is replaced by the comfort of recognition.
And then what sounded like noise starts making REAL sense.
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  #53  
Old 06-14-2024, 09:23 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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A few things I'd echo from what's been said in the thread already.

Bill Frisell plays in a lot of different contexts. I generally find his music very approachable. He often establishes the melody, and like some other modern Jazz players uses "New Standards" that are rock/pop/folk tunes living folks might already know (just as previous generations of Jazz players played tunes their generations would know).

But of course I'm not the OP, nor was I at that particular concert. I too commend the OP for being honest and curious.

I wish I could give the OP some "tips" as to how I listen to try to fulfill their request. Some of my enjoyment comes from things I'm not conscious of, and so can't explain. A few week attempts:

I try to find the groove (in some styles that easy, in others, it's implied or complex).

Know that the musicians, as well as the composer, are making choices. I often greatly enjoy considering those choices, the ones that seem like the perfect choice, the ones that seem like the oddest choice, and ways those two things aren't always opposites. Perhaps this is because I'm a composer and an instrument player (of however limited talents) -- but even if the OP isn't, putting yourself in that mindset may reward you when listening to Jazz.

Consider the music as conversation. If you were to hear a group talking in a language you don't know, you might be able to "understand" what they're feeling even if you don't know the words they are speaking.
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  #54  
Old 06-15-2024, 05:35 AM
Sir strumalot Sir strumalot is offline
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1. buy "Kind of Blue.
2. If you like it try some other stuff.
3. If you don't like it, don't bother, it's probably not your thing.
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  #55  
Old 06-15-2024, 06:47 AM
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When I listen to Thelonious Monk or Preservation Hall, it seems like
the first go-round is kind of normal and defines the structure and number
of measures. After that they mostly all go crazy, but keep it together by
somehow sticking to the structure and number of measures...

-Mike "just like yogi described..."
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  #56  
Old 06-15-2024, 10:33 AM
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Hard to describe how I listen to it - I just do. When I first started loving jazz (somewhere around age 16 or 17), a LOT of it was just far too abstract for me and I didnít like it. But I always loved Coltrane, Miles, Monk (talk about an insane genius at exposing his inner child!), Mingus, and after listening to them for a while, other stuff that I couldnít initially stand started sounding really good to me - making more sense as it were. Henry Threadgill, Ornette, Blood Ulmer, and others just sounded like noise to me at first but them I came back to them later and they sounded beautiful, with all kinds of subtle forms of swinging and melodies that appeared that Iíd never been able to hear before. Just being exposed to it opened my ears to it and eventually it made sense and I loved it. Kind of like Hendrix - as a little kid it was kind of noise once you got past the ďSmash HitsĒ stuff. But over time I came to love all of and saw him for the transcendent genius he was. Kind of like coffee and Brussels sprouts, for that matter. Acquired tastes all. I never ďworkedĒ or ďtriedĒ to understand it or like it, but over time it just snuck in there, like osmosis or something.

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  #57  
Old 06-15-2024, 11:32 AM
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My Dad loved Jazz, so I grew up listening to a lot of stuff from the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's mostly... my Mom loved Ella and Frank, so I heard a lot of that as well; Pop music they called it, back in the day...

I really embraced Jazz in the 70's when I received an intense 18 month tutoring from a recent Berklee grad who I was in a band with...

As for how I listen? Well, what Eric said about knowing the tune they're playing is good; it does help a lot to view the song as the players' interpretation, and knowing the tune gives me a "jumping off' point of reference.

Now, when you get into listening to Miles Davis, Coltrane, Mingus, Bill Evans or Monk... the above only goes so far! I learned to just let the sound wash over me, and to let go of having/wanting to know "what and why?", and let the performance speak for itself. With many artists, I've grown to have a level of trust in the intention of their music, so, just like with Dylan, Van or Joni, I'm predisposed to give them the benefit of the doubt, if I don't "get it" on first listen... and I'll listen again.

Ornette Coleman had a terrific method called Harmelodic playing - as I understand it, the players in his band, playing his pieces, were not chained to a melody, a rhythm, a chord structure or even a key signature... Ornette wanted them to play how they "felt" about the song, in any way they could demonstrate that... something about this approach appeals strongly to my sensibilities...

So, back to Frisell (whom I LOVE, by the way!)... I would suggest "not trying" to figure it out, especially while it's happening; more, to try to feel what the players are saying in their performances, what they're trying to convey, realizing that they ARE, indeed, conveying something that's important to them...

One of the many things I love about Frisell's playing is his love for and embracing of so many types of music... not all of it "speaks to me", but quite a bit does... I'm particularly fond of "Good Dog, Happy Man" and all the recordings from that era - which include my friend Greg Leisz - all worthwhile stuff.

Of course, with Jazz as well as Blues (and other genres), there are gonna be cookie-cutter, soulless examples...

More than anything, I just go by how I feel when the music hits me...
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  #58  
Old 06-15-2024, 12:58 PM
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First time I listened to John Coltraneís ďA Love Supreme ď I didnít get it. To me he had relapsed and McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones were too intimidated to say anything. Second time I sat down to listen was a totally different story. It was an epiphany. Third time I listened and wept.

Me personally Iíve always found listening made more sense if I pursued the thread in the title of the song.

An acquaintance once asked me about John Coltrane and if I could recommend an album. I immediately said A Love Supreme. Thought about it, turned around and told him that he should in stead try the album My Favorite Things. Love Supreme can come after. Later he told me that the guy standing next to me had said, when I was gone, ďHeís right. Listen to Favorite things and then move on.Ē

Love Jazz. At home itís constantly in the background. Even my wife, who when we first met didnít care for it, listens to WBGO.ORG on a loop. Like someone else said the whole experience of placing vinyl on turntable and dropping the needle adds to my appreciation of it. But just as long as I know the title of the song. Without it I have no frame of reference.
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